DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #3

GUESS WHO’S BACK, BACK AGAIN… 4.5/10.

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Well there is good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that Bruce Wayne isn’t dead; the bad news is that a lot of other people are, and the death count seems likely to rise. Having tricked Ray Palmer into freeing them from the glass city of Kandor, Quar and his army of Kryptonian zealots now seem intent on conquering the Earth. They demonstrate their power by pretty much destroying Moscow and giving the rest of the world three days to kneel before Zod, I mean Quar. But still, Kryptonians like it when you kneel. Historically speaking Batman has never been a fan of kneeling for anyone, but with age taking its toll he is no longer able to fight the good fight. Luckily he has Carrie Kelly at his side, a bat army at his disposal and one final ace up his sleeve.

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While the invasion rages on politicians pontificate, TV pundits push their own political agendas, and the rest of the world texts and tweets in simultaneous horror and disinterest. Meanwhile Bruce and Carrie make their way to the Arctic to thaw out an old friend and sometimes enemy, Superman. Apparently following the events of DKII Superman was so depressed he went in to some kind of weird, ice-coated hibernation, which is what I felt like doing after reading DKII as well. Nothing Bruce says seems to rouse the Man of Steel from his slumber, not even an admission that he is too old to do this on his own, surely a killer for Bruce. It is only when Carrie announces that it his people that are threatening the world that Clark begins to thaw.

With the deadline up, Quar confronts the leaders of the soon to be not so free world. However, before he can deliver his ultimatum he is confronted by a defiant Batman and an enraged Superman. But Quar has a secret weapon of his own, Superman’s daughter, Lara. Quar has filled her mind with propaganda, turning the powerful youth into the ultimate weapon against her father. The issue also features a mini story staring the Green Lantern, who returns to Earth only to be defeated by three sultry, Kryptonian priestesses. Suffice to say it is all very Milleresque. DKIII is far from the car crash most people were expecting it to be, in fact thus far it has been a vast improvement on DKII but it still fails to come close to glory of the original.

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Miller’s writing seems to be far more focused on this project than it was for DKII or the total travesty that was All Star Batman & Robin. This is no doubt down to his collaboration with Brian Azzarello. Make no mistake, Frank Miller has an incredible creative mind but he has spent the last decade becoming a self-indulgent, cartoon parody of himself. The political commentary may be a little on the nose but it works for the most part, especially when presented through the voice of a digital public that is totally indifferent to the hostile takeover until they lose their Wi-Fi connection. The story feels far more cohesive this time round, there is a clear antagonist and narrative line, but it still feels like a soulless copy of the original.

The return of Klaus Janson is without a doubt the best thing about the title, his artwork defined TDKR and DKII faltered without him. While DKIII may not take the visual risks of the original it is at least a relief that it doesn’t descend into the visual chaos of its predecessor. Janson’s iconic style gives the title a sense of authenticity but something still just doesn’t quite click. This seems to be the case with every aspect of DKIII and while its narrative continues to build steam it still has yet to truly grab the reader’s attention. There is no urge to find out what happens next even with Superman now back in play. Many people questioned the need for DKIII to happen, three issues in and it still doesn’t feel like that question has been answered.

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